Skip to main content

The Gardens & Parkland

Hylands Estate is proud to have approximately 574 acres of restored historic parkland open to the public free of charge, including ancient woodlands, grassland, ponds, lakes and formal gardens.

Volunteering at Hylands Estate makes a real difference. Get involved with your local community, meet new people, develop your skills and learn more about the Estate.

You can now find out even more about the Estate and gardens with our new multimedia tour. Borrow a handset from The Stables Information Point, or simply use your own smart phone by scanning the QR codes on the sign posts. Find out more about the tour on the dedicated web page.

The Parkland

The earliest reference to the place-name Highlands is in 1500 when Thomas Hawkin died, leaving Highlands Field to the Vicar of Writtle. Through the numerous owners and architectural changes Hylands Estate became its largest in the Victorian era during John Atwood’s ownership where the Estate stood at 4,300 acres. Today Hylands Estate has 574 acres of parkland open to the public 7 days a week for recreation. We are proud to have hosted many large events including the famous V festival and Rize Festival.

The Pleasure Gardens

The ornate Victorian Pleasure Gardens can be found hidden in the 574 acre Hylands Estate near The Stables. With several period garden styles to explore and the on-going planting restoration, there’s always something new to see.

The garden dates back to the early 1900s and has herbaceous beds lined with Box edging and standard roses, including Mary Rose and Ann Boleyn varieties. The formal raised border by the House with its clipped Yew hedging and collection of Irises marks the start of the main walk into the gardens.

The path leads to the hidden core of the gardens with its Repton style planting and Rose basket. An impressive planting scheme with White Foxglove and Gypsophila, and roses such as Rosa Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Rosa Susan William-Ellis, makes for a beautiful display. Be sure to take a look at the Victorian Parterre with its centre piece sundial and eye-catching display of seasonal bedding. A small Lily pond flanked by two oak arbours clad in Wisteria and borders containing Allium, Nepeta and Peonies and old-variety scented roses, Rosa White Provence and Rosa Centifolia Muscosa, is also worth noting.

Central to the Pleasure Gardens is the beautiful duck pond home to a variation of fish, ducks and geese. Duck food can be purchased from the Information Park in The Stables.

One World Garden

Set outside the original Repton layout for the gardens but nestled within the walks of the Pleasure Gardens is the One World Garden.

Officially opened in 2007 by Prince William and the Duke of York at the 21st World Scout Jamboree to celebrate the Centenary of Scouting, the design of this small jewel of a garden is based on the principles of the Scouting movement and is designed as a children’s garden.  Its inspiration comes from the ideals of the Arts and Craft movement, with the emphasis on the use of traditional skills, materials and design.

To enter One World you will pass through the Garden Pavilion which houses the start of a rill which meanders its way peacefully through the garden.  See specimen plants such as Acer Katsura and Magnolia Grandiflora as well as planting schemes including Gunnera Manicata, Echinacea, Phlox and the recently established Cob Nut Walk.  Take a look and see what else you can find.

The Woods at Hylands Estate

Nearly a quarter of the estate is covered in woodland which includes  a mix of ancient woods and plantations. These woods are an important part of the landscape, valuable for wildlife and tell us much about the history of the park.

South Wood

This large wood contains a mix of woodland types including Hornbeam and Hazel coppice with Oak, Ash and Sweet Chestnut standards and areas of high forest in the southwest corner. It contains several wetland areas which add to its biodiversity value.

Writtle Wood

A small ancient wood with Hornbeam coppice and oak standards, Elm and Sweet Chestnut.

Jubilee Wood

Planted in 2012 to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee, it includes an avenue of young oaks, sponsored by the Friends of Hylands House.

The Serpentine Lake

The lake was created as part of Humphry Repton’s landscaping of the Hylands Estate shortly after 1800, and was made to look like a river. It has been recently restored after becoming overgrown with trees and vegetation.

The Serpentine Lake Hylands Estate
Two children sit on a log around a fire pit at the Forest School.

Forest School

Located in its own special setting, the forest school at Hylands Park is run by Justine of Green Earth Learning.

Sessions for children under 5 years old run in term times on Thursdays and alternate Fridays from 10am-12pm. Look out for holiday sessions for older children too!

Join in with woodland crafts, rustle up something in the mud kitchen, hunt for bugs, climb, play, read or just relax in the hammock; there is something for everyone!

Bookings can be made via and you can visit for more information.

Beekeeping at Hylands Estate

Chelmsford Beekeepers have kept honey bees on Hylands Estate for many years. The hives are primarily used as teaching aids for members, park volunteers as well as some sessions opened to the public. The Estate offers the honey bees a huge variety of foraging opportunities, ranging from fields of dandelion in the spring, flowers and trees in the pleasure gardens though to ancient woodlands. The bees often produce an excess of honey, which we are delighted to stock in our giftshop located in The Stables.

In addition, there are many wild colonies of honey bees located within the trunks of the more established trees. On a warm summer’s day, you may hear their gentle buzzing as they move through the park collecting nectar.

Be sure to pop into The Stables Shop to get your Hylands Honey, alongside all the products #MadeAtHylands.

Two members of the Chelmsford Beekeepers checking on a bee hive. The hive is surrounded by purple flowers.